|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Stories Added - November 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Coldspring hears $500 million park plans
San Jacinto News- Times
COLDSPRING -- County administrators, businesses and individuals from San Jacinto and surrounding counties fi lled Jones Auditorium at the old Coldspring school Thursday to gather information from developers of the Earth Quest Institute and EarthQuest Adventure theme park on proposals for a $500 million Disney-style entertainment complex. The proposed park will be located adjacent to U.S. 59 in New Caney. “Such a park can change this area quite a bit, providing it becomes a reality,” said Shepherd Independent School District Superintendent Jody Cronin. “Once it gets going there should be an over fl ow into this area as far as population, which our schools will have to prepare for.” Cronin said they were told that motels, restaurants and residential areas will also be created as the complex grows. Chief Science Offi cer for EarthQuest Dr. Matt Gardner and former Disney executive Chris Brown, president of Contour Entertainment, presented Thursday’s program which was hosted by Pro Star Waste and the Coldspring/San Jacinto County Chamber of Commerce. “They told us the project would bring in about $2 billion annually to the area once it gets started,” Cronin said. “They also said they would be using local contractors and creating many jobs for area residents.” “We are hoping it all becomes a reality. We need the growth and the jobs it is projected to bring,” said Coldspring/Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent LaTonya Goffney. Goffney said it will be great from an entertainment point of view since there is nothing else like it in this area for children and adults. “We were told that an education component of the venture would include science classes held on campus in the county or by way of fi eld trips to the c o m p l e x once it is completed. It sounds so good. We are anxious to see it become a reality,” Goffney said. Gardner and Brown insured the group in attendance that it is, “Not if, but when,” it will become a reality. “It’s a matter of raising funds and spreading the word,” they said. During the next year they hope to begin work on the design and plans to implement the design. To date, $30 million has been invested in the project to secure the land and develop schematic drawings. The project has secured $7.5 million in bonds through the East Montgomery County Improvement District, which is funded by a 1.5 cent sales tax. Development is planned over three phases, including a land zone, water zone and a research and information zone that will allow researchers a means to disseminate their findings and develop technologies for testing. “This project is going to get built and there’s going to be opportunities for local businesses to either have a presence on the site or a sponsorship role,” Gardner said. EarthQuest will be a unique theme park resort complex featuring rides, a water park, animal park, a green gadget garage and a hotel and conference center. The site will also be home to a nonprofit science and technology learning center focused on ecological topics. About 500 acres of the 1,600 site will house the theme park which will be constructed first in Phase I on the west side of Hwy. 59. Phase II and III will be constructed on the east side of Hwy. 59. The total proposed project is expected to be completed by early 2014. Houston’s status as an energy capital and the 18 million residents that live within the region helped draw developers to the area. When Astroworld closed five years ago, Houston became the only one of the top 11 cities in the United States without a theme park.